Jesus’ appearances after his resurrection

By Mark Morgan | Jesus

Jun 02
Empty Tomb by aaronforjesus (Aaron Johnson) ( Licence: public domain

Early on the Sunday morning following his crucifixion, Jesus rose from the dead – to the dismay of his enemies and the complete surprise of his friends! Each of the four gospels records different details of that morning and the forty days that followed, leading finally to his ascension. Putting those records together into one coherent narrative is not easy, but I hope to present a harmony of the gospels for this time in another newsletter. For the time being, we’ll just look at the appearances of Jesus after his resurrection.

On the day of his resurrection

It was a disturbing, exciting, worrying, shocking, encouraging, and finally triumphant day for his friends! Although they awoke certain that Jesus was dead, before the day was out, many were certain he was alive. During the day, Jesus appeared to:

  • Mary Magdalene, soon after dawn (John 20:14-18 and Mark 16:9; Mark 16:11 also reports that the apostles didn’t believe her).
  • Mary his mother, Mary Magdalene and possibly other women (Matthew 28:1, 9).
  • Cleopas and friend on way to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-33; Mark 16:12).
  • Simon Peter (Luke 24:34; 1 Corinthians 15:5).
  • eleven apostles (or ten, to be precise – perhaps Thomas had stepped out for a few minutes at the time Jesus appeared to the others) (Luke 24:36-43; John 20:19-24; 1 Corinthians 15:5 calls them ‘the twelve’, probably meaning ‘the apostles’ rather than intending to specify a number).

Before his ascension

Over the 40 days leading up to Jesus’ ascension (Acts 1:3), he appeared to the following (not necessarily in chronological order:

  • The eleven reclining at table, when he told them off for doubting (Mark 16:14). This could be same as the event below….
  • Thomas, eight days after his resurrection, apparently with the other ten also (John 20:26-29).
  • The eleven on a mountain in Galilee (Matthew 28:16-18).
  • More than 500 at one time (1 Corinthians 15:6).
  • James (probably the Lord’s brother) (1 Corinthians 15:7).
  • Seven apostles, fishing on the Sea of Galilee. Jesus gave them a miraculous catch of 153 fish, then shared breakfast with them and talked to Peter about love (John 21:1-24).
  • eleven apostles before ascending into heaven from the Mount of Olives towards Bethany (Luke 24:44-53; Acts 1:4-11). This may be the appearance to ‘all the apostles’ spoken of in 1 Corinthians 15:7.

After his ascension

Even after his ascension to heaven, Jesus appeared to a few people through special visitation or visions:

  • Stephen (Acts 7:55-60).
  • Paul on the way to Damascus (Acts 9:3-9; 22:6-11; 26:12-18).
  • Ananias, telling him to go and see Saul (Acts 9:10-16).
  • Paul at an unknown time after he requested healing three times (2 Corinthians 12:9).
  • Paul in the temple in Jerusalem (Acts 22:17-21; possibly happened during the visit with Barnabas and Titus between Acts 11:30 and Acts 12:25).
  • Paul in Corinth, telling him not to be afraid (Acts 18:9-10).
  • Paul after being arrested in Jerusalem, the night after appearing before the council (Acts 23:11).
  • John, giving him the Apocalypse (Revelation 1:1-2, 11-19).

Paul also says that he had received some instructions from “the Lord” (1 Corinthians 7:10; 11:23), which probably refers to Jesus, but we don’t know whether these were given in one of the meetings mentioned above, or at a different time.

See also…

Bible Tales article: Harmony of Bible records of appearances of the resurrected Jesus Jesus’ Ministry After Resurrection Timeline